09/01/2018 15:40 SAST | Updated 09/01/2018 15:41 SAST

Emfuleni Must Pay Historical Debt To Get Their Water Back

'They have fallen behind with the arrangements to pay Rand Water.'

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The Emfuleni municipality will have to settle their alleged R450-million in outstanding debt to Rand Water before they can get their water back.

The municipality has a historical debt with Rand Water of R450-million, and allegedly did not stick to a deadline for the first instalment made with the bulk water supplier. It missed the cut-off date to settle 25 percent of the amount owed on Friday.

Read: Residents Plead With Emfuleni To Restore Water Supply

Sputnik Ratau, spokesperson for the department of water and sanitation said: "Towards the end of last year, Emfuleni was one of the major debtors, and there was an arrangement [made] for them to settle the debt."

"They have fallen behind with the [amount the arranged] to pay Rand Water. Rand Water then revoked what the arrangement had allowed by reducing the availability of water.

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"Emfuleni must correct this by bringing their payments up to scratch, in order for Rand Water to supply them with water."

The municipality's default on water debt has taken its toll on residents, who have been without water since Friday through the searing Gauteng heatwave. According to EWN, residents have been queuing in the blistering sun for hours waiting for one of five water trucks to arrive in the area.

According to News24, frustrated Emfuleni mayor Jacob Khawe barricaded the gates of Rand Water's Glenvista head office in Emfuleni, Vereeniging, on Tuesday morning, to protest the interruption of water supplies.

"The agreement was that [Rand Water] would open the water [on Monday night]. The agreement doesn't include a complete closing of water, but a water reduction of 40 percent, to manage the current account. Rand Water has still not given the instruction for water to be opened," he said.

"I kept quiet for three days while [Rand Water was] going to the media, saying we are not honouring our agreement... I admit that Emfuleni made a commitment to pay an amount of R200-million by January 5, but today I paid R177-million to show that I am committed to paying and fostering a good relationship with Rand Water," he said.